Accelerated Academies draw plenty of interest

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About 100 parents turn out for 1st meeting on new program

By Todd Martin

Shelby County Public Schools is moving ahead with the formation of the Accelerated Academies at both high schools.

Shelby County and Collins high schools invited parents to informational meetings last week, and both turnouts were successful. Superintendent James Neihof noted that there were more than 100 at each event.

"They had a few questions, and we readily admitted that it's our first go at this, and we're going to continue to work on the structure each year," he told the school board at Thursday's meeting. "But so far parents and students have given us positive feedback and the public support has been good."

The Accelerated Academy plan is for incoming qualifying freshmen at each high school and provides a set schedule of eight classes per day. Over four years the program includes 17 Advance Placement courses, 11 more high school credits than the state minimum and the opportunity to obtain up to 42 or 48 college credit hours.

Students that meet criteria based on national tests are being invited to apply now, and up to 30 will be selected to participate in the program at each school.

The board, however, did have a few questions.

"My concern is that from eighth grade they're going to go into a real structured ninth grade," board member Brenda Jackson said.

Neihof asked the principals of the schools to address the question, and Collins Principal Anthony Hatchell said he didn't' think it would be a problem.

"With the exception of the zero hour class [before the school day], the structure is not really different than a normal freshman year," he said.

Added SCHS Principal Eddie Oakley: "One support system we've added already this year has been the availability of the Talented and Gifted teacher, and she'll be there next year to help provide support for those students."

Board President Sam Hinkle applauded the program but added that he'd like to see it grow.

"I think this is a wonderful thing for the children of our community, and a lot of eyes will be on our efforts," he said. "The one slight concern I have is that we be sure that the children interested more in the humanities have some place in the mix."

Read Across America

James Ray Morgan, the co-president of the Shelby County Education Association, brought the Cat in the Hatto the board meeting to tell the board about its donations to each school in the district.

Morgan told the board that SCEA is donating $100 to each school library to purchase books in honor of Read Across America Month, which is celebrated in conjunction with Dr. Seuss' birthday.

Meeting changes

The board is scheduled to meet just once in April, the 21st, because of spring break April 4-8.

However, because of the superintendent evaluation, which also occurs in April, the board will likely have a special called meeting either April 11 or April 14. The board will also choose a date to conduct architect interviews.

New building projects

Neihof also told the board that 13 proposals were submitted for the two new building projects, an elementary school on the Southside property and an early childhood center where the old Northside school building now stands.

The board will interview the top three candidates, as selected by the project committees, for each school.

Also at the meeting, the board approved:

  • Applying for grants from The King Daughters and Sons Foundation and the Kentucky River Foothills Development Council to benefit the preschool center at Painted Stone Elementary.